Rory’s Ryder Cup gamble: McIlroy risks never being captain if he gives up his European Tour card
- Rory McIlroy could relinquish his European Tour membership next year
- The Northern Irishman wants to play on the PGA Tour to help rediscover his form
- If he gives up his membership he would miss his chance to be Ryder Cup captain
- McIlroy was decidedly blase on Tuesday about giving up his membership
Rory McIlroy is considering relinquishing his European Tour membership next year, which would rule him out of ever becoming Ryder Cup captain.
The Northern Irishman is searching for answers following a disappointing season and, in the year when he will turn 30, believes his career is best served by concentrating nearly all his energies on playing on the PGA Tour in America.
One consequence of giving up his membership that he may not have foreseen, however, is that he would have to forget any captaincy aspirations he held.
Rory McIlroy is considering relinquishing his European Tour membership next year
A regulation drawn up last year states: ‘Players cannot be a Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.’
McIlroy was decidedly blase on Tuesday about giving up his membership in 2019. Right now, he has just two regular European Tour events on his schedule and needs four to remain a member. Even his participation in the Irish Open, the event he put back on the map, is in considerable doubt.
‘My thinking is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in, week-out, and for the most part of the year that means playing in America,’ explained the world No 7, whose only victory this season came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
McIlroy wants to test himself against the best players in the world all year round in America
‘If I want to contend in the majors and continue my journey back towards the top of the game, that’s what I want to do.
‘If it were that I don’t fulfil my European Tour membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not the end of the world.
‘I’m always going to want to play in the Ryder Cup, so if I give up my membership, I’ll rejoin in 2020 and try to make the team that way.’
What’s the betting there’s a Rory rethink once the new regulation is pointed out, presumably brought in precisely to deter any Euro star from such thoughts?
McIlroy can pursue his line of thinking quite easily next year while still retaining his membership in Europe. He will play in the Irish Open or Scottish Open in July — probably the latter, given his stated wish to play the week before the majors and it is staged immediately before the Open — and the European Masters in September.
All he has to do, therefore, is find two more events on the European schedule from September onwards, when the PGA Tour season will have ended.
McIlroy played a practice round in Dubai on Tuesday ahead of DP World Tour Championship
To be fair to McIlroy, the golf calendar is undergoing a significant shift next year which is positively encouraging the superstars to spend more time in America.
The USPGA is moving from August to a May date, with the Players Championship pushed back to March and the FedEx Cup occupying the month of August.
‘Everything is going to be so condensed between March and August, I am going to take a big off-season and then go at it hard between those months,’ said McIlroy, who is competing in the DP World Tour Championship starting on Thursday. He will play only once more — in Hawaii in the first week in January — over the next 13 weeks.
With an off-season of that length, no wonder there were some in Dubai who looked at the idea that he couldn’t find a measly four events to retain his membership as something of an abject betrayal.
It’s indicative, though, of the fact the top players just want to play against each other. For them, a World Tour combining the strongest events from the PGA and European Tours cannot come soon enough.
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